A group of CSO’s and partners have released a communique after it met with the Kaduna state Transition Sub-Committee on Citizens Engagement on Thursday 11 May, 2023, to discuss recommendations captured in the Memorandum it submitted to the sub-committee on Citizens’ Engagement on 5th May of 2023.
The group, which included representatives of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), Ihifix Innovation Foundation, Campaign for Democracy and Procyon TV/Radio had a incisive interaction with the Sub-Committee.
READ FULL TEXT OF COMMUNIQUE BELOW….
COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE VISIT AND PRESENTATION OF MEMORANDUM BY CIVIL SOCIETY PARTNERS TO THE TRANSITION SUB-COMMITTEE ON CITIZENS ENGAGEMENT
On the 11th May, 2023, the Transition Sub-committee on Citizens Engagement played host to civil society partners that included representatives of the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), Ihifix Innovation Foundation, Campaign for Democracy and Procyon TV/Radio.
The interactive meeting was convened to discuss recommendations captured in the Memorandum submitted to the sub-committee on Citizens’ Engagement by the above listed groups on the 5th May of 2023. The civil society team was received by the acting Chairman alongside members of the sub-committee. The objective of the meeting was to ensure shared understanding of the recommendations in the memo for consideration as part of the report of the sub-committee.
The civil society partners explained the rationale behind the recommendations for sustainability, which was broken into six thematic areas. These include: reforms, laws, policy, participatory budgeting, service delivery and participatory Audit process. The reforms advocated are built on deepening the principles of transparency, citizens’ engagement, accountability and responsiveness.
The three major reform initiatives discussed were the Open Government Partnership (OGP), State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program and Local Government Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (LFTAS) program. Also, there was the recommendation for rolling over of the commitments on open budget, open contracting and citizens’ engagement in the proposed third State Action Plan (SAP) of the OGP.
There were recommendations to amend the Planning and Budget Law, 2017 and Fiscal Responsibility Law, 2016, to provide legal backing for the annual budget town-hall meeting, Community Development Charter (CDC), OGP and stakeholders’ town-hall meeting fiscal performance. Also, the passage of the Freedom of Information bill into law was recommended.
Under the policy recommendations, there was a call for the review of the Community Engagement Framework (Policy) with the civil society and stakeholders for wider input, buy-in and ownership. As well as the incorporation of the Community Development Charter (CDC) Protocol into the State’s Budget Manual/Guidelines.
In line with the global best practice in participatory budgeting, it was recommended that there is a need to ring-fence a fixed allocation (at least ten percent of the total budget) by ward or local government for the implementation of CDC nominated projects. Similarly, non-state actors’ digital solutions to promoting citizens’ participation in the budget formulation process, such as www.citizensdemand.org , should be mainstreamed in the spirit of OGP co-creation.
To improve the quality of Service Delivery, it was recommended that the Department of Monitoring & Evaluation of the Planning & Budget Commission should be strengthened and funded to effectively implement the State’s Result-based Monitoring & Evaluation Policy. All Sectors should be mandated to annually review the sector implementation plans with civil society/stakeholders and the reports made public. The Citizens Feedback App under the Eyes and Ears Project should be collaboratively reviewed together with the civil society/stakeholders to make it more user friendly in order to get the buy-in of users.
The partners finally advocated for the development and production of the Citizens Accountability Report (CAR) to be timely and sustained. There also should be increased citizens’ engagement in the audit process, especially during performance/value for money audit. The Audit Alarm Committee should be set-up in line with the Kaduna State Audit law and awareness created among citizens to raise audit alarms.
The committee members asked questions that ranged from the efficacy of the OGP model, poor level of citizens interest and participation in governance, the viability of using technology to engage citizens considering low computer literacy rate and internet penetration and the approach needed to ring-fence budgetary allocation for the CDC nominated projects at the community level.
The sub-committee thanked the civil society partners and gave assurances that the recommendations will be given due consideration in its final report.
In conclusion, partners reiterated that the success of any administration will be hinged on the quality of platforms provided for result-based citizens’ engagement in the governance process. As mandate-givers, sovereignty belongs to the citizens, therefore by virtue of section 14 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), they should be informed, consulted, involved and partnered with in the decision making processes of government. Anything for us, without us, cannot be for us.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje